Foreword By Janet Napolitano, Governor of Arizona
Table of Contents
  Miranda's Confession
  Right to Counsel
  Privilege Against Self-Incrimination
  Miranda and the Arizona Supreme Court
  Birth of the Miranda Warnings
  John Frank as Architect of the Miranda Doctrine
  John Flynn's Oral  Argument at the Supreme Court
  Gary Nelson's Oral Argument for Arizona
  Thurgood Marshall's Oral  Argument at the Supreme Court
  The Opinion
  The Miranda Warnings
  The Ongoing Debate
  The Dickerson Case
  Miranda's Global Reach

Miranda and the al Qaeda Terror

  Padilla and Hamdi
  False Confessions and the Tuscson Four
  Political Ideology and the Supreme Court
  Dickerson's Legacy
  Gideon's Legacy
  The Evolution of Miranda

from Chapter 4

The Miranda Opinion

Excerpts from pages 80-81

An “opinion” from an appellate court such as the U.S. Supreme Court is unlike any other document produced by any other branch of government. Even split-vote opinions are the result of equal, binding, independent, and single-minded debate. They are remarkably collegial, given that they are handed down by a group that has no peers, no superiors, and a chief whose administrative responsibility is greater than the rest but who nevertheless has only one vote.

While individual justices often differ in their social values and philosophy, they share a common discipline of the law and fidelity to the Court. They have no constituency, no party, and no “higher court.” Most important, they respect each other’s opinions in a way that diminishes pride of authorship and honors deeply held convictions.

The Miranda opinion contains inordinately long sentences professing arcane Latin maxims upon which so much of our Anglo-Saxon law is based. It is imbedded in principle, clothed in scholarly material, and limited to a specific brand of custodial interrogation. It is both eloquent and prophetic. It is nevertheless quite specific:

The Supreme Court of Arizona held that Miranda’s constitutional rights were not violated in obtaining the confession and affirmed the conviction [citation omitted]. In reaching its decision, the court emphasized heavily the fact that Miranda did not specifically request counsel. We reverse. From the testimony of the officers and by the admission of respondent, it is clear that Miranda was not in any way appraised of his right to consult with an attorney and to have one present during the interrogation, nor was his right not to be compelled to incriminate himself effectively protected in any other manner. Without these warnings, the statements were inadmissible. The mere fact that he signed a statement, which contained a typed-in clause stating that he had “full knowledge” of his “legal rights,” does not approach the knowing and intelligent waiver required to relinquish constitutional rights. [Citations omitted]

Thus was the procedural gateway for the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination set forth in nonconstitutional terms for the first time. In supporting this opinion, Chief Justice Warren was joined by Justices Black, Douglas, Fortas, and Brennan. Justice Harlan, with whom Justices Stewart and White joined, dissented. Justice White wrote a separate dissenting opinion, as did Justice Clark. Whereas most Supreme Court opinions are simply filed with the clerk of the court and mailed to the parties, in this case, Chief Justice Warren read the full sixty-plus-page opinion aloud in the Supreme Courtroom on Monday, June 13, 1966. In a voice laden with emotion, Chief Justice Warren made clear the connection between the Fifth Amendment privilege and the new right - the right of silence - by saying, “At the outset, if a person in custody is to be subjected to interrogation, he must first be informed in clear and unequivocal terms that he has the right to remain silent.”


Miranda: The Story of America's Right to Remain Silent
Copyright © 2004, Gary L. Stuart. All rights reserved.
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page last revised: 10/25/04